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Pros and Cons of Pull-Out Programs for Gifted Children

Updated on April 1, 2012

What Is a Gifted Pull-Out Program?

A gifted pull-out program is when gifted students are identified as being within the top five percent and are taken out of their regular classroom in an effort to provide enriched or enhanced academic opportunities, instruction that would normally be unavailable to them otherwise. Pull-out programs often begin as early as first grade and are usually content specific, specializing in one subject or area of study.

The Pros of Pull-Out Programs for Gifted Students

  • While grouping students based on their areas of giftedness can be challenging, it also results in a balanced education. Unlike cluster grouping and self-contained grouping, students receive gifted instruction in only their areas of strength. Because of this, students may tend to be more successful.
  • Pull-out programs result in groupings that often help teachers challenge students more easily.
  • Once a student is identified as gifted, special instruction is often legally required, and pull-out programs fulfill this legal requirement.
  • Any attempt at improving instruction for gifted children is often perceived as an improvement over the norm.
  • Pull-out programs do not siphon all of the high-achieving students into one class. Instead, gifted students can be evenly distributed among classes.

The Cons of Pull-Out Programs for Gifted Students

  • When students are pulled from class, they miss instruction.
  • Pull-out programs are hard to defend against charges of elitism, because of the highly-visible activities and field trips gifted students participate within.
  • Groupings may be complicated, because groups are determined by subject. Students may be in the highest group for one subject but not for another.
  • Pull-out programs may cost more than cluster groups and self-contained gifted classes, because an additional instructor is usually necessary.
  • Pull-out programs are not effective without worthwhile instruction. Merely placing gifted students in one classroom will not improve instruction. Teachers must receive relevant gifted training in order to maximize instructional opportunities.
  • Placing the right students within a cluster group is always a primary concern. Parental pressure, borderline students, and highly talented yet unmotivated students all pose a challenge to pull-out programs.
  • High-achieving students, who have not qualified as gifted, do not benefit from pull-out programs.
  • Pull-out programs are often limited because of schedules. Cluster groups and self-contained programs do not suffer from this limitation, because the students are in one class all day. Pull-out programs simply do not provide enough gifted instruction.

The Needs of Gifted and Talented Students

Conclusion: Pull-Out Programs for Gifted Students

Any attempt at providing gifted instruction is largely an improvement from the norm. Pull-out programs can be beneficial, because they include only students who have qualified for specific subjects. However, when students are pulled for isolated subjects, they often do not receive gifted instruction in other related subjects. For example, reading instruction may be provided when a student qualifies as verbally gifted, but pull-out programs tend to ignore other subjects where reading is fundamentally important, such as history or science. Yet another problem with pull-out gifted programs lies with the very limited class length provided and the homeroom instruction that is so often missed. For these reasons, pull-out gifted programs tend to be the least effective method of instruction for gifted students.

What do you think about pull-out programs for gifted children?

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